Sunday, February 17, 2013

Every Fashion Doll is NOT Barbie and...



...every doll is not made for children.


Do these all look like Barbies to you?  From left-to-right they are, I can be President Barbie; repainted one-of-kind Barbie by Chynadoll Creations (meant for the adult collector); High Brow Adèle by Integrity Toys (an adult collectible doll); and Esmé, a 16-inch fashion doll by Robert Tonner (adult collectible).


I was prompted to sit down and compose this post after reading an article dated February 16, 2013, that refers to an Integrity Toys Adèle from 2004 as a Barbie, designed for child's play.  In the article, entitled,"Image of New Black Barbie Doll Sparks Outrage," the author writes:

An image of a brown Barbie doll has surfaced on the Internet, causing people to question whether or not it is supposed to be the next African-American Barbie. The doll is sporting blonde hair, gold chains, cleavage, and two bags that are strikingly similar to the Louis Vuitton monogram multicolor collection.

The doll and the author's opening statement as well as many of the comments (excluding a few), which were apparently posted by non-collectors, caused me to wonder why the non-collecting community is so misinformed about dolls in general and why every fashion doll is incorrectly identified as Barbie.

First of all, there are many doll categories.  Some of these are listed and defined below:
  • Antique - According to the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), a doll of at least 75 years; other authorities define antique dolls as dolls of at least 100 years.
  • Art -  Dolls created by artists and intended as expressive and unique art objects rather than children's toys. 
  • Artist - Dolls made by doll artists, usually in limited editions or as one of a kinds (OOAKs), for adult collectors
  • Collectible - Dolls designed for adults who collect dolls as a hobby.
  • Fashion - Dolls dressed in trendy or haute couture-like fashions, made for children as well as adult collectors.
  • Modern - Dolls made from 1960s through present (this definition can vary).
  • One-of-a-Kind (OOAK):  Dolls made in an edition of 1 by doll artists; can also be an artist or manufactured doll repainted by a repaint artist; in essence only one of the doll in its present state exists.
  • Playline - Dolls fashioned as a child's toy.
  • Reborn - Dolls that originated as baby dolls sculpted by a doll artist which are later fashioned to look like real babies using painting, hair re-rooting, and other techniques developed by reborn artists.
  • Repaints - Artist or manufactured dolls used as a canvas by repaint doll artists who add realism through repainting the facial features and skin tones, and/or changing the hair by re-rooting or re-wigging, resulting in one-of-a-kind dolls because no two will ever look alike.
  • Vintage - Dolls made prior to the 1960s (this definition may vary based on doll type).
For the purpose of this post, I will focus on fashion, collectible, and playline dolls.

While Barbie maintains the highest profile worldwide among fashion dolls, not every fashion doll is a Barbie.  I might also stress that while Mattel (the manufacturer of Barbie and her host of friends) creates dolls for children sold by toy retailers and through their own online website, every Barbie is not designed for child's play.  There are playline Barbies as well as several collectors editions.

For misinformed non-doll collectors and parents who often display a knee-jerk reaction to dolls designed for adults, please relax-relate-release.  Just because you see a fashion doll that you think is a Barbie made for children that portrays an image that you deem inappropriate for a child, in most situations the doll was fashioned for adult collectors by a manufacturer or doll artist other than Mattel.   There is no need to start a campaign against the doll or manufacturer or to create an otherwise pseudo-controversy, as in the case of the Django Unchained movie-memorabilia-action-figures-made-for-adults fiasco.

No, we are not all Barbies and only one of us was designed originally as a child's toy!

The bottom line is this:  Just because a three-dimensional, inanimate object is defined as a doll does not mean that object was intended for child's play.  If you are not a doll collector and you see a doll that raises your eyebrows or causes you to wonder what the doll maker was thinking, ask an authority on the subject before jumping to an inflammatory (and often incorrect) conclusion.

Click here to view the doll (Perfect Skin Adèle Makéda) designed by Jason Wu for Integrity Toys in 2004 and the article that sparked this post. 


Doll Terminology Resources (other than my own): 
Art Dolls
Doll Glossary: Words About Dolls and Doll Collecting by Shirley E. Childers (Kindle book)
What is an Antique Doll

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22 comments:

  1. Well said. I'm glad you posted this. I saw a reference to that article this morning, and decided not to read it. The non collecting public can't fathom the idea of an adult collector. It's so tiring at times.

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  2. Thanks for posting this, Debbie. I (foolishly, perhaps) read the article AND many of the comments. . .just raised my hackles and blood pressure. I agree, it is VERY tiring! Why can't an article like YOURS be as widely-spread as that hack article? {hmmph!}

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  3. Great post. Unfortunately many non-collectors use the word Barbie like the words Bandaide or Kool-aide are used to describe a thinkingly like obejct! Uninformed! As apparently was the author of this article, which I have not read.

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  4. Thank you for this post, Debbie. I could not bring myself to read the entire original article that you linked to, although I read some of the comments and laughed out loud. If they have such a strong opinion of Adele, I can only imagine their reaction to some of my dolls!

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  5. Hello from Spain: I congratulate you for this post. I totally agree with your approach. People are very uncultured regarding the collection of dolls. Keep in touch

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  6. Great article Debbie! I actually like the doll and why someone would consider it as a play doll is beyond me. To add to a previous comment the term "Barbie" now seems to refer to all fashion dolls. Like Jello and kleenex refers to all gelatin deserts & tissues. Non collectore just are not aware of the many different fashion dolls .
    Bonnie

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  7. Great article Debbie! I actually like the doll and why someone would consider it as a play doll is beyond me. To add to a previous comment the term "Barbie" now seems to refer to all fashion dolls. Like Jello and kleenex refers to all gelatin deserts & tissues. Non collectore just are not aware of the many different fashion dolls .
    Bonnie

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  8. Very well stated. Very good post Debbie. This post leaves no questions unanswered.

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  9. Hey Debbie, I too saw the article and read it! I was like WoW these folks have no clue! I read a few of the comments and I totally agree that they just need to relax! Someone got on their soap box and all the judgmental folks hop along with the rest. Everyone is screaming Barbie Barbie because they are misinformed and don't take the time to research what they are talking about! I bet a whole mess of them would be very surprised to learn about Just who designed this doll and then won the honor of designing a dress for the First Lady !

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  10. Thank God for you!! Personally I think the doll is absolutely FABULOUS, BLOND HAIR AND ALL!!!
    KUDOS to you Deb and much love to my doll friends.

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  11. Thank you to all who commented. I had to address this issue. I get unnerved every time I read a reference to a non-Barbie where the writer identifies the doll as Barbie just because it is a fashion doll, no matter what the size as if Barbie is the only fashion doll and as if the doll can be as tall as 16 inches.

    I am afraid this post is preaching to the choir, because only informed people will probably read it. But at least I got it out of my system.

    dbg

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  12. Thanks for the clear cut definitions of different types of dolls. I hope your definitions will become more widespread.

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  13. You should send this post to the person that wrote that aricle!!

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  14. http://straightfromthea.com/2013/02/19/fact-or-fiction-meet-the-new-millineum-african-american-barbie-doll-photos
    This is insane! I can't belive people are so blind! Don't they read other comments? Or do they just want to find something to hate and rant about? Geez.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Ada. I am surprised this misinformation has gone so viral that MSN felt it newsworthy and that Mattel had to publicly state the doll was not made by them. I know how protective Integrity is of their image and images, so the writers had best beware.

      Good grief, don't people do research before they write about something that is unfamiliar, or better yet read before they post information and other peoples' pictures on the Internet?

      SMH (shaking my head): This just affirms that if the information on the Internet is not from a reliable, reputable source, the chances of it being accurate is slim to none because any Jo/Joe Blow can post information.

      dbg

      Delete
  15. That article and it's responses were the most misinformed indignation I've read in a long time. The author's lack of research notwithstanding, those comments were a complete clustermuck [m-intended].

    I do get that the noncollector would view just about any fashionable doll as a "Barbie" even if they were not familiar with the Mattel company. Just today I mailed off a Bieber doll to Poland. When I filled out the customs form it said include a detailed description - e.g., "men's cotton shirts" and that general descriptions "toiletries" weren't acceptable. I'm thinking in my head that "1/6 vinyl Justin Bieber doll" is accurate, but "Barbie doll" is easier and more universally known so that's what I put. So, while I get the author assuming it's a Barbie, that doesn't excuse their lack due research.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Muff,

      When shipping a doll, I use "doll" as the description on customs forms.

      dbg

      Delete
  16. Debbie, I greatly appreciate your comments on this subject. I really wish the authors had properly researched the subject matter before starting a chain of knee-jerk reactions.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Misty.

      Unfortunately, in blogosphere, nonfactual material is often used to attract readers.

      dbg

      Delete
  17. Thanks for this post. Educate those ignorant people. What happened with Django Unchained? I missed all the drama.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Robotica. Thanks for your comment.

      RE: Django Unchained dolls: As a result of the controversy and petitions surrounding the movie memorabilia figures representing the main characters of Quentin Tarantino's movie, Django Unchained, the 8-inch figures by NECA were pulled from the market. Petitioners described the dolls as slave dolls and found them offensive.

      Merchants, who had placed orders, had their orders cancelled. So the dolls, designed for adult collectors, were chained, never released (except for I suppose an initial few) to the public.

      dbg

      Delete

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